SunshopTalk Sunday: Prepper Bug-Out HF Manpack Radio School

There you are.  One morning, America is going along all normal (like) and then suddenly flick.  With nothing more than the eerie sounds of silence (with a nod to S&G) we pass back into the 1800s as a space-based weapon of unknown origins takes down the grid and the internet.

Calmly, you survey the panic building around you.  Your checklist is complete.

  • You have a little stash of guns, grub, gold, God (and Grey Goose – my aren’t you prescient?) stored at that retreat of yours, 150 miles away.
  • Fishing, hunting, trapping gear, homesteading books, basic hand tools and the two “fresh survival seed packs” were updated 2-months back on a schedule.
  • You have water, sanitary plans, and medical supplies for all.
  • Your gas tank is full and not by accident.
  • The car is prepped – always ready for a 2,000 mile drive with no squawks for the mechanics.
  • All your family members think you’re nuts for getting everyone to pick up Technician class ham tickets and keep a charged Baofeng in their purse or school bag.
  • You have a meet-up place (the home) and everyone knows which ham repeater to use “in the event of an actual emergency.”
  • Why, there are even a couple of 200 watt solar panels and a cheapo charge controller at the cabin.
  • And most of all, you have an AMAZING radio bugout bag.  A reliable receiver and – if you have $300 bucks – a great portable transmitter and receiver (transceiver).  With this, you have comms while the world doesn’t.  Putting you one-up on everyone not so prescient.

Technician class licenses allow for HF Morse code.  See the HF Band Plan here for license classes an privileges.

If It All Works?

The meet up goes as planned.

You will stay that way = ahead of the pack/mobs – for a simple reason:  You will have (in a massively chaotized world) information first.

Your family knows it, too.  You used the software program CHIRP to preload your VHF ham gear with local fire, police, regional weather NOAA channels, and even state patrol dispatch. You know sites – like this one – where all the basic data can be found.

As you get on the road, it will be a worrisome 3-hour drive to the country, but you leave at 3 AM knowing the criminal class is usually lazy.  You reckoned the safest time of day (based on road rage risk sudies) would be 5 AM to about 10 AM. Safest time to avoid fatal traffic wrecks is 6AM to Noon.  You’re thinking 9 or 10 AM, though, since the power’s off…

Arrival at Cabin  8:30 AM

Having the police and state patrol frequencies pre-progrmmed more than paid for itself on the way up.  You avoided some “crazy’s” who were already getting into the Thunder Dome mood of things.

While the spouse gets the stove fired up for some Krusteaz and all that maple syrup you stashed, you review the work plans.

  • Get a perimeter established.
  • Set watches
  • Check and count battery inventories.
  • Go to the Comms bag and start working magic.
  • Survey the AM, FM, and shortwave bands.
  • A tune around the 40-meter ham band is eye-opening.
  • Pull down NOAA Weather.  Which, being “all-hazards radio” will have the latest official news and public safety reports.  Give it tonight before the National Guard and curfews go into place.
  • Hold a short family meeting.
  • Plan the work.
  • Work the plan.

WHY a Manpack HF Radio

VHF 2-meter and 440 MHz radios are dandy.  But they have some shortfalls, one of which is they require either a) a repeater or b) line of sight.

For your shortwave information-seeking, an ATS-25 (widely available on eBay) is a great receiver for the money.  They antenna for receiving is literally nothing special.  A piece of wire over 15-feet long, insulated, and tossed up over a tree branch will be dandy.  Noise floors will be amazingly low with the power off.  It will get even quieter with the 48-hour cell tower backup batteries cascade offline, too.

Thing is, you want to go hunting and fishing.  For this, you will be away from the cabin and all they will have is the shortwave receiver.  You may be 3-6 miles away on uneven land.  Line of sight isn’t an option and repeaters don’t all have backup power.

Fortunately, you attended the UrbanSurvival.com Manpack School!

Manpack Radios 101

A manpack radio is generally a backpack equipped with a radio and an antenna.  Lots of additional accessories will be included.  But first, let’s get a basic manpack set up.

As I described in a couple of previous articles, there are several very serviceable small HF transceivers on the market.

  • The one shown in the build today is a USDX. $170.
  • As good, or equal:  the (tr)USDX that runs about $150.
  • Up the food chain, see HF Signals.com for the uBITX 6+ series.  Assemble it yourself (just basic tools and a handful of solder joints) for $209.  It’s a fine radio (I have one and use it on the big antennas)
  • Several entries for Chinese maker Xiegu are on Amazon and eBay.  Popular (with slightly more power input) is the G90 model.  Go for the one with the built-in antenna tuner, but don’t expect change from a $500 bill, lol.  One up?  Try on the specs of the Xiegu X-6100 which is just over $600 on the Zon.
  • Going deeper into the wallet, the Yaesu FT-818 is on Amazon for a shade over $720.
  • Absolute top of line would be the Elecraft KX-3 but they start in the $1,800 range and go to over $3,000 depending on how you “option it out.” Oh, they are also back ordered and one of the best receivers in ham radio.

On any of these radios, the ham radio community at eHam is great at posting reviews on almost anything.  Google format is simply “eham,net review [radio model]” and you can sample other ham’s views.

Not All Radios Are Alike

Read, read, read.  Does the radio have a special charger required?  (USDX does need a 12.6V charger.  Lithium-iron batteries are finicky. But with a switch it can run on 13.8V off a battery/solar panel combo.)  See the specs on all the other radios for internal battery specs.

Charging and power levels are important.  The more power, the more range under poorer conditions.  Well, EXCEPT that also means more battery suckage. For short voice work, more power (10 watts) is good (depending on range).  For longer distance conmms, less power and better antennas is the answer.

Speaking of Antennas:  The connector which comes with your radio matters.  Big Radios come with SO-239 female antenna connector which accept a PL-259 plug.  Easy to crimp and solder if you have the tools.  ($50 laying around?)

BNC connectors have always kept me at bay.  I don’t like putting them on coaxial (coax) cable.  So, I use a lot of PL-259 to BNC adapters (male and female depending on use case).

Things I love about the USDX?  Well, a built-in Morse code reader so Elaine can see what is being translated from Morse in my head.  Also Iambic keyer modes A and B are both supported.

In theory, I suppose, Iambic B mode might be faster for higher speeds (remember, I can still copy and send 30+ words per minute).  But don’t worry about that until you bust 20 words a minute and master ANY keyer and can smoothly transition between a keyer and a semi-automatic key.

Or (screw it!) just use voice which is our focus here.

Remember lots of us “old-timers” are gear snobs.  What will work?  Doesn’t take much.

Class #1:  Basic Manpack

The radio used this morning is the USDX set down to 4-watts to reduce strain on the final amplifier , a High Peak Simex Day Trekking pack, and the Harvest 2000 antenna.  When an antenna is not perfectly “matched” (resonant at the right impedance) the radio final amplifier transistor(s) will generator more heat.  Result is? Higher failure rate.

Remember when “doing radio” in an emergency that reliability is more important than raw power or even unit specifications.  USDX specs are OK, but compared to higher-priced Kenwood, Icom, and Yaesu gear?  Not even close.

The exercise this morning is not to build ultimate performance.  That’s something far beyond this class.  We’re making a backpack to talk over 1,000 miles, do it on less than a big flashlight worth of batteries and give change back from $400-bucks.

This is a COTS build.  Old radio guys who may have prepped HF radios for places (in south Asia, for example, um…) all know this means  a “Custom – Off The Shelf” configuration.  Or as some operators I know call it “Buy and fly.”

Let’s begin by taking the radio, basic OB2000 antenna, and the backpack to a bench.

We will need to order a 10-inch so-239 bulkhead fitting.  See this vendor on eBay.  About $27.  (So-259 – female and the corresponding plug PL-259 were developed for early UHF work and are commonly called UHF connectors.)

Step #1:  Beginneth to Maketh

The first part of making a manpack is to connect the 10-inch bulkhead in the vertical position to the left side rail of your backpack.  (If you are right-handed).  You don’t want any interference with your (purely defensive! LOL) aiming arm.  Like so, using back-to-back metal cable clamps.

The idea is the backpack holds the radio, spare batteries and a whole list of crap which we will get to.  The top (on the right) is where the antenna plugs in and the bottom is where your PL-259 to female BNC (yep, another connector type) is plugged in.

You will also need a good quality 2-3 foot BNC male to male jumper coax (*at the bottom of antenna) to the BNC male plugging in to the radio…

Now, if you don’t have cable clamps, or all the tools be pend them up, this way and that, you MIGHT do the same outcome with three hose clamps, but it will not be as strong.

I tried various combo’s of hose clamps, but nothing was as good as 2 correctly sized cable clamps at each end of the bulkhead.

Step #2: Mount Antenna

Connecting backpack and antenna fitting (bulkhead connector) isn’t that hard.  

Once the 10-inch bulkhead is in place, you will need a male-to-male PL-259 adapter.  This one has the cover on it (save these since they keep dirt and rain out of things when hiking).  One end goes into the bulkhead bottom  and the other goes into the SO-239 antenna bottom: *View is of the top – use the other end – our photographer is an idiot!

Feeling like we can see daylight, already?

Step #3: Confirm Spacing

(Optional, coming article)

We are planning on building a ground system under this beasty to improve how it “gets out” or “talks.”

All this will be is a 4-5″ round piece of aluminum plate (6061 or firmer) with some holes in it.  This will put “ground rods” under the antenna.

A 5/8th’s hole in this plate will go between the top nuts at the top of the bulkhead connector – about 3/4’s of an inch down so the antenna screwed on doesn’t hit the plate:

Step #4:  Admire Your Work

I’m a “positive reinforcement” guy.  Love to do part of a project then lean it up against some shop furniture and just admire it and think about whether there are ways to improve on what’s been done so far.

Step #5:  Set Antenna Length

The Harvest OB2000 antenna has a wire with “banana jacks” which are plugged in for the appropriate band you’re using.

This length is adjusted by a “slip fit with Allen set screw.”  So when you go schlepping about the woods, you DON’T want to lose the Allen wrench.  Put it “snuggish” into the end of the bottom part of the two-piece whip that mounts over the coil.

Of course, it will fall out anyway at the worst possible moment. Add tape.  You do trek with duct tape, right?

But, at least you will know where the “trail begins” on your quest to find it.

Step #6: Set Whip Length

Late at night, pouring down rain, you need to contact someone 25 miles away. Mountainous terrain, so VHF is out.  Repeaters are down. What should the whip length be set to?

The Harvest (OB2000) instructions offer good starting points.  But they do so in centimeters, so before packing up for a radio walk- about, see the marvel stolen from the wife’s sewing gear?

Just in case, consider what I did: Convert the manual sheet to an Excel and then do an inch’s round-off to go in the pack, too:

Alternative Antenna Tuning

You can set an antenna to the correct length by “estimation and interpolation.”

Steps are as follows:

  1. Transmit on the desired frequency.  (An agreed-upon frequency is called a channel – got it?)
  2. Look at the SWR (antenna transmitter “standing weave ratio” meaning lost power and efficiency) reading which the USDX provides (set up ahead of time in the menu system).
  3. Say our “channel” is 14.200 MHz.  We transmit and notice an SWR of 2:1.  Means Transmitter – which is looking for a 50-ohm )impedance is AC requivalent of resistance) and has found a 100-ohm antenna.
  4. Not good enough? Transmit on a lower frequency, say 14.150 MHz.
  5. If the SWR is better, it means the channel frequency may be improved on the 14.2 MHz operating channel by shortening the antenna.
  6. If the SWR is worseit means the channel frequency can be improved by lengthening the antenna.

So far, so good.

Step #7:  Charge Everything

Yeah, no one wants this part, but short-cut charging time means shortcutting operating time, too.  So we do it.

Step #8: Line Up to Load Out

This is going to look convoluted and out of order.  There is a reason.

You see, something I picked up from flying airplanes around the country is that when people do the “same thing” each time, they skip, shortcut, and cheap because “rote” is not what high-functioning humans do, am I right?

Randomizing for Success, I call it:

Let’s go through the minimal packing for real comms:

  1. A – RADIO
  2. B – ANTENNA MOUNTED TO MANPACK
  3. C – CHARGER FOR RADIO (12.6v)
  4. D – MICROPHONE
  5. E – BACKUP FEEDLINE FOR HIGHER ANTENNA
  6. F – 1.5 KW BACKUP OCFD ANTENNA 140 FEET LONG
  7. G – ANTENNA TUNING LENGTHS
  8. H – CHARGER FOR JUMPSTARTER
  9. I – JUMP STARTER
  10. J – JUMPSTARTER TO BATTERY CABLES
  11. K – MASON’S LINE (HI VIZ) (In covert ops, use black or camo).  Kevlar or paracord is better for other than on-the-move use.
  12. L – ANTENNA SHORT AND LONG BNC JUMPERS (1.5 AND 3 FT.)
  13. M – MEASURING TAPE FOR ANTENNA
  14. TO THE RIGHT OF THAT SPACE MALE-MALE PL-259 ADAPTER
  15. Spare antenna band jumper cable.

Step #9:  Optional and Useful

The ATS-25 (or ATS-20) general coverage receiver is not shown.  Toss this in if you’d like.  It’s worth it to have a second radio.

A copy of the ARRL black and white printed Band Plan which you can download here. Official Observers aren’t keen on people getting out of bounds.

On the backside of One Second After the survival strategy will be 99% listening.  If you do transmit, being a half mile from camp potentially is a smart thing to do, depending on direction finding teams and killer drones coming to a neighborhood near you.

Not shown is a double battery clamp 10 feet long.  This is used to clamp on the top of the bulkhead connector (ground side of antenna) and may be run to anything nearby that will act as a better counterpoise.  I have used fence wires (barbed is good) but don’t use electric fences!!!~!~

I have also used railroad tracks which are the most kick-ass ground there is!

You can wind up  35 and 70 foot lengths of “horse fence tape” with fittings to use as additional antenna counterpoise.  Hell, just laying it on the ground works.

Step #10:  Pick a Morse Key

Obviously, if you’re one of those puny “non-digital humans” who can’t copy Morse Code in their head north of 2o WPM, this part is not for you.  But a good bit of the joy of manpack low-power HF radio operations is picking the code key for the occasion.

Let’s step into Ure’s office and look at a corner of the collection, shall we?

By the numbers:

  • 1 – Nye-Viking “regular hand key.”  This one has a really nice – almost velvety touch to it.  Not unlike the “clackety” Lionel J-38 series.  These last were “the standard” in WW II.
  • 2- The Vibroplex Lightning series.  This was the first dit-making key.  The Major got the Standard, but the Lightning has always been reasonably light and quite good.
  • 3- This is a custom-made “cootie key” – also called a “side-swiper.”  Don’t use it much, but there is a non-automated way to send with a side-swiper that’s really fun.  Use it when making SKCC contacts now and then.
  • 4- Finally, a Vibroplex paddle-type keyer.  This one was put out to pasture when I bought the 6-pound behemoth Vibroplex The VibroCube.

The reality of prepping – if you want to try digital modes in a global catastrophe – has not sunk-in.  You NEED Morse – which is “digital in your head.”  At “one second after” computers, bitcoins, financial markets, and life in the 2020s will be gone.  Frontier comms.

Now you’re ready:  Stuff the rest of the bag with Mountain House beef stroganoff and trail jerky plus a LifeStraw.  9 MM on the hip, good boots, tent, and a 2-meter rig for the weather and local comms if available. Magnesium fire-starters or char cloth. Insect repellant, inhaler…trail med kit…yessir. Good for a couple of days.  Spare P38 can openers just in case.  Field knife and first aid kit, trauma pack.

It’s a long walk to Dayton Ohio for the Hamvention this year.  May 20-22 this year.  I won’t make it.

Still, any damn foot can spend $50K on high end towers, Step-IR antennas nearly the size of parking lots and they are marvelous.  Oh jeez are they ever!  How about $16,000 competition-grade radio (Icom 7850) and $10,000 linear amplifiers?  I know many who do.

But, low power – manpacking – it’s like the difference between a 5-speed in a Porsche and a high-end Lexus 4-series.  One takes skill to time shift points from a corner entrance (braking) in and smoothly power through a long twisting turns 3-4-5 at Laguna.  The other is posing for dinner and a show.

The former is a kick in the ass and what driving is all about in “performance mode.”  The latter is stately and just always works.  Ham radio lines out the same way.

Radio Operator Skill Measurement

If you really want to know who has high operator skill, ask them what their “Best Miles per Watt” level is.

My personal best is 2,500 miles and 4 watts. Over 500-miles per watt.  Anything over 100 miles per watt on HF is “working” while 300+ miles per watt moves into “not an idiot” country.

This is the electronics versioni of Big Game Fishing.

Ought to think about that code and joining the Straight Key Century Club, too.  Who knows?  You might do well as an already-digital human!  We were all slow learners, once. Hell, I still am.

Does It Work?

Hell yeah.  Even with the antenna tuned to 14,200 (swr 1.3) we were able to hit the Maritime Mobile Services Net up the band on 14,300 without retuning the whip length.  (Voice, not code, lol.)  1,200 miles and the net control was an S6 with S5 noise here.  This was before the improved ground radial system at the base of the antenna.

With the transmitter putting out 4 watts, that’s 300 miles per watt – respectable (on voice) but nothing for the record books (Morse or continuous wave (CW- Morse) rules) here.  Still, imagine a zero-noise world and having a plan.

Get a couple of cheap Timex’s too.  Radio batteries are saved by batteries.  See any comment posting by “William and the Radio Ranch” for the UrbanSurvival meeting frequencies and timings.

Seem like a worthwhile exercise?  Imagine talking from Seattle to Portland on a flashlight.  That’s the skill set here.

Shut Up.

Listening draws only a fraction of the power that transmitting takes.  Conserve energy.  Use the big back-up wire antenna when possible.  Locate 1/2 mile from your camp to avoid radio-direction-finding zeroing in on your makeshift home when transmitting.

Control any emissions – smoke smells can lead a team and baddies right to your fire (and maybe dinner!).  Don’t smoke, same thing.

Buy a combat vet a beer (well, maybe not John Kerry, lol) and talk about real live or die.  Or, talk to the grisly old NCO who looked after manpacks going up “the trail” to repair sensors…

Write while the batteries charge!

George@Ure.net  AC7X  SKCC 19433

ShopTalk Sunday: Ladder Rescue – Super Booth – Manpack HF

Oh, boy. This morning’s report will be a “two cupper” – and maybe three cups – if you study the ideas, problems and pictures of today a little bit. There is so much going on around here it’s, well, amazing.  This writing less and doing more is turning out to be most agreeable.

We’ll get to our first work – the Ladder Rescue Project – in a sec. What happens with time (and goal) management, though, is really interesting.

Doing More – By Doing MORE

If you remember, I vowed to take a little “extra time in the shop” and cut down my writing a bit.  Less chair time.

So, a near book-length outline of an improved (and practical) system of Pomodoro-based time-management is in the works now – with respect to Francesco Cirillo (The Pomodoro Technique: The Acclaimed Time-Management System That Has Transformed How We Work) and Cal Newport  who wrote Deep Work. I’m hitting productivity levels of a “man possessed” i30-years younger.

The magic (at least for me) has been using a modified Pomodoro approach (Cirillo) while honoring Newport’s Big Things take real.

I’ll get into that (when other things are less pressing) over on the Peoplenomics.com website.  I will say that ever since I found more joy in work – by wrapping it up in a spreadsheet to randomly organize everything in a complicated life – which Peoplenomics subscribers can download in spreadsheet form from here – I have been maniacally focused on getting more done in less time.  And having more fun!

Going Deeper…

This gets around to a fundament thought-into-action concept called iWAMP.  That’s short for the continuous question: “Is What’s Around Me Perfect?”  Because to find out what’s really important to do at moment, all we need to do is look around and spot areas of “imperfection.”  World’s an imperfect place.  Unlimited opportunity for improvement, right?

Since we can each do anything, but life is too short to do everything, we need “Search Criteria” for personal management.  My favorites are Important, Impactful, and Interesting projects to improve-living.

  • Important because ideally, our projects and works should result in a meaningful change in how the Universe expresses itself in our presence.
  • Impactful because these “works and projects” should not be “organizing the angels on the head of a pin” (minutia, meaningless).  Rather they should make things better both personally and for others in our vicinity. Big acts seem to net Bigger Results.  (There may be time lags, however.)
  • Interesting because, as I wrote in my book Packing to Die, a LARGE part of living this Life is about the “game film playback around the time of dying. Which is in the literature (medically) analyzed as the Life Review Process (or Experience).

Never, ever forget that our Lives are like a huge video -and our brains have a miraculous GoPro logging system. A late friend of mine used to end his radio DH show with “You can’t turn your back on your Face.”  

To live a great life there are three critical alignments:

  • As above, so below – Incoming:  We start life with the choice to work with Creator/Universe or fight it.  (Hint: Go with the flow!)
  • During: We need to align our lives, while living, with what we consciously know as our highest purpose.  Fun – do what you love.
  • Exit, Stage Up: And WHILE doing front-end alignment and while “driving through life” alignment, we also need to remain cognizant that we are constantly “rolling game film” with our onboard “dash-cams.”  Playback (with commentary of Others) when you kick it to the LRE.

Life cannot, therefore, be genuinely and deeply experienced sitting still. Doing Big Shit is key.  Little stuff can wait.  Really.

Which is why, when we’re not slicing off small (but semi-regular -;)) day trades, we are really focused on turning our home into a creative Mecca.

Maybe next weekend we can talk about one of the core concepts here:  Workstations for Success!  We have “workstations” for every major task-group in Life around here.  Or, they’re in development…

Whee!  Long get-started discussion, but useful in the longer haul.  Trust me on this.

Ladder Rescue

20-years ago, or thereabouts, we moved to the Outback of East Texas.  For the massive remodel, I bought a wooden ladder.  Stndard 6-footer. And we have just abused the hell out of it.

This week, the paint bucket fold-down fell apart.  It was time to rescue the ladder to ensure it remained useful.

Solution-Scaling

You can see the problem, clear-enough:  Ladder was old and “beat to shit.”  But now came the 2-cups of coffee “thinker” on this one:  What is – to channel Frederick Winslow Taylor -the One Best Way to get the repairs made?  Let’s review some choices:

  • Replace and Upgrade:  Yes, the ladder is 20-years old. Could I update and get a better platform?  Yes.  Only takes money and time.
  • Repair:  This offers a who list of approach choices:
    • Glue:  Use modern adhesives.  Clamp and use in an hour or less.
    • Screw:  Pretend the world has ended and there’s no more epoxy.  What is the lower-tech solution?
    • Re-Do:  Take the assembly all the way apart and put it back into amazing like-new condition.  Recut all broken parts.

Re-Do looked interesting.  But, on closer inspection, the original paint shelf was applied using long-ass staples which we don’t stock in our shop:

Screwing the project together?  The wood was beginning to split, so at least two pieces of wood would be needed.  Thing is, they are riveted to the ladder as pivot points and now we would be back into a mechanical engineering process.  Color me skeptical of rivets.

The right answer led me to the Glue department where we are reasonably stocked.

But please note that Loctite has a couple of “flavors” of 3-thousand pound epoxy.

The Big Project tubes don’t come with two “mixing nozzles.”  (See arrow above).  Make SURE to get the kind for small projects with the mixing nozzle and cap so you can get two small projects if you don’t do a lot of epoxy glue-ups.

In gluing, there is a theory that using Saranwrap can be a useful thing:

It’s all a lie.  While you can try it (as I did), better off using nitrile gloves and just dealing with the fact that gluing is messy no matter what.

When you’ve got glue all over everything, clamp it up:

Come back an hour or two later, paint the repair (and remember not to leave the old wood ladder outside, as much.

Last step:  Old wooden ladders use long “threaded rods” to hold the steps in place.  If your ladder is the least bit wobbly (side to side) odds are tightening up the threaded rods will fix you right up.

Manpack HF Radio

Having had the joy of talking from Texas up to Wisconsin on 3 watts of SSB on the 20-meter ham band, son G2 and I decided to take this portable QRP (low-power) hamming to the next level.

This week, we assembled all the parts needed for a serious HF manpack radio:

About the only thing not shown?  An aluminum framed backpack.  You can find something useful for under $40 online.

The one odd-ball part is a 10-inch UHF (SO-239 female each end) bulkhead fitting.  This 10″ section is pipe-clamped to one side of the backpack.

I also did some antenna modeling and found there’s an inexpensive 2-3 dB of antenna gain possible by just putting on a “radial ring.”  This will be at the top of the bulkhead connector, and will allow 4 to 6,  3-foot sections of aluminum welding rod to be bent onto screws as base ground radials.

Not a fan of having RF right by my head (care for the void, right?).  But can’t be worse than country cooking with 5G, right?

More pictures and notes in a following edition.

Super Booth Project

Going with this “workstations: approach to the shop (and house), I mentioned several weeks back that I was going to clean an area of the shop and put in a “small tools with chair” section.  Big tools are used standing up and small tools can be safely used while seated.

This “small maker’s area” will be optimized for multi-function use:

  • Small square and angle sawing:  Place for our old Dremel Table Saw.
  • Freeform sawing:  Places for the retro Dremel MotoSaw and the larger Skil 16″ scroll saw.
  • Small wood lathe:  There’s a tiny 8X12 Wen mini-lathe that needs a home here.  Wen is discontinuing it, but it’s very good on smaller projects. Pens, models, and such.
  • Metal lathe?  I’m still debating if the small Taig metal lathe should live in this area or stay over in the metal workstation area.  May not move it.
  • Air Brushing Booth (finally, to the point, huh?)  Now we’re into the meat of it…

You see, this week, I decided that a three-sided U shape would likely result since we also need some work/assembly space.  And I came very close to “pulling the trigger” on this (nice) air brushing booth.  Then I saw the $20 shopping charge and moved back into thinking mode. Money matters.

Thing is, it occurred to me we could do this booth thing as a Community Project.  Because what I REALLY want is a dual-purpose booth.  Something that could be used for BOTH airbrush painting AND also has a dust booth for the small CNC machine.

See the problem developing?  Either I need to get a real efficient design going OR I need to have this split into two workstations.  Airbrush supplies alone look like this laid out on the small projects sit-down bench:

By the time I add in all the other small tools (Dremel drill press, router, tool stand and flex shaft, the table saw) and then toss in the small lathe and the scroll saw, this whole “single workstation for small stuff” begins to bump up against dimensioning limits of physical Reality.

For the Booth project, I ordered four booth filters and a 4-inch inline fan for less than $50 and I can make the rest from scrap and build up the filter box and print it on the Creality CR-10.  I might even post the .STL file so others can borrow the idea…

Ranch Tour

Everything in the Garden Room is going nuts.  Wde have more than a dozen yellow squash flowers popping:

Elaine’s happy with the radishes that are nearing edible size:

And out front?  We may be in a national drought, but East Texas lawns still have that “let’s play golf on this” look to ’em:  View from the dirt garden:

One Last Thing: Oil Painting

I decided this week to try and do an oil paint.  Elaine’s already got a “paint station” out on the screen porch…and now there are two easels and sets of paint and….

Why paint?  Well, the process intrigues me.  More to the point, though, I am working on trying to “bring back some view of Dream Realms” and this seemed like a simple way to do it.  Installing a USB port into my brain stem didn’t seem like a “home small shop weekend project.”  Know what I’m saying?

Not really worth showing yet, but it begins to rough-in something like this for the first painting I have in mind:

Might be fun to put a picture of progress on this up, now and then, to see how it “condenses to the physical plane” as I paint in coming weeks.

OK< nothing to do around here, no sir…

Write when you get rich,

George@Ure.net

P.S.  Click the comments label here to send in your ideas on this multipurpose booth project…